Just over a year ago I wrote “Is it a blip or a trend?” about my blood test results. That time is was an encouraging improvement in my platelet levels which allowed me to avoid Plan B and go on to Plan C. (Plan A was prednisolone which bumped up my blood glucose and played havoc with my diabetes, Plan B was rituximab, most of which’s side effects weren’t fatal, and Plan C was carry on with the lower dose prednisolone and see what happens and eventually stop the prednisolone). This time the question is aimed at a less than encouraging increase in my PSA levels.
On Thursday I saw a new (to me) Oncologist. When I was diagnosed I was due to see Dr C but this was changed to Dr P because his list was over-full. I first saw Dr P in Wycombe but because SMH is more convenient for us she said she would fit me in to her breast clinic at SMH. However she has now returned home so this week I had my first meeting with Dr C. Both of them take time to explain what’s happening and what the options are. So it was over to SMH to see Dr C along with the STAMPEDE trial nurse who checked my weight and waist and I handed her the “quality of life” questionnaire that she sends me every three months. I also had to sign some paperwork agreeing to let various things be stored and used for research (things like saliva, blood and tissue samples that I have already given). I think there were subtle differences from the permission I had given previously but I didn’t spot them. It did seem to me a bit odd that anyone who had agreed to take part in the trial might not tick (or initial) all the boxes but I guess they had to offer the option.
The first shock when we got to SMH was that it was now £3.50 to park for two hours. I am sure when we went last time it was only £2.50. I always make sure that I have a couple of pound coins and a fifty pee with me when a hospital visit is due. Fortunately I had more than just two pound coins with me – the ticket machines don’t take notes or cards (the machines in our local car parks do take credit cards so it is possible to pay for a 30p parking ticket with a credit card if the only change you have are 5p’s which aren’t any use anywhere except to add to something else!).
I discovered that my PSA levels had gone up. They had been slowly rising from a low of 0.15 nine months ago but this time it was a bigger jump (over four months). It appears that the testosterone that feeds the cancer is produced not only in the testes but also elsewhere such as the adrenal glands. So it may be necessary to move on to the next stage which is a daily dose of bicalutimide, but not yet. Although the PSA had gone up it was not anywhere near 10, and we needed to be sure that this wasn’t just an unfortunate blip. Had I been doing a lot of cycling in the few days before my blood test then I would have been confident that it was a blip, but I rather think a little bit of cycling at a CentreParcs eight years ago doesn’t count (that was a holiday with granddaughter #1 who took great delight in sitting in a trailer towed by her dad on a bicycle).
So it’s carry on and have another blood test at the end of January. Meanwhile I had another triptorelin injection the next day (which meant that between Liz and I we had managed to have a visit to our surgery or the hospital every day last week). Just as well we got that sorted last week – Buckinghamshire is now full of blocked roads and cancelled public transport. Fortunately some of us went to see the display at Waddesdon Manor last night. On the way I spotted that there was a car “parked” among the trees beside a notorious bend on our most travelled road and it hadn’t even started snowing – glad I don’t have to go that way today.
Just one final question. “How did we go shopping before we had mobile phones?“. Earlier I braved the snow and slush to visit the local supermarket and there was a familiar sight – a man standing in one of the aisles with a shopping list in one hand and a mobile phone in the other. He was looking at a choice of items and obviously ringing home for a decision on which one to get.